The simple solution to the Quantocks problem

But, last week, Nick found himself asking a question in the House of Lords (where he sits as the Earl of Clancarty, an independent crossbench peer) on the very future of the Quantock Hills. Somerset County Council, we had learnt, was in the process of divesting itself of about 2,000 acres of Quantock land – specifically the Great Wood, Thorncombe Hill and Over Stowey Custom Common.

No love
, your husband sits as Viscoubt Clancarty. The Earldom is an Irish one and thus doesn\’t lead to a seat in the Lords.

But over and above that:

Mr Liddell-Grainger says the land is estimated to be worth £250,000,

This is a minor, trivil even, problem.

At a full council meeting in February, called to debate the issue after the national advocacy group 38 Degrees gathered 40,000 protest signatures in a month,

You just get those 40,000 people who were concerned enough to protest to cough up £6 or £7 each and then buy the land. For of course, those outraged enough to protest will be willing to put up the cost of two pints to preserve forever this very special corner of England, won\’t they?

And if they won\’t then they\’re not concerned enough or it\’s not a special corner, is it?

After all, by their actions shall ye know them…..

We might even think that you and your husband should kick things off. After all, a British Viscount, Irish Earl and Dutch Marquess should have sufficient noblesse oblige to spend some time fundraising, no?

6 comments on “The simple solution to the Quantocks problem

  1. £125/acre? I don’t think so.

    Tim adds: Could well be actually. It’s already under a long lease at peppercorn rent to the Forestry Commission.

  2. Actually doing something about it? What? Much too much like hard work for a professional journalist.

    So we’ll have a bit of meaningless civil non-disobedience, instead.

    So will there be a family pilgrimage to the Quantocks this year? Yes – even if we have to commit trespass.

    Why’s it both meaningless and not civil disobedience? Because of that Forestry Commission lease. Which, unless the lease is broken, means that there is general permission to roam (limited for some SSSIs and sapling areas) from the FC.

    A 999 year lease with 930 odd left? Very, very long. And makes it a mere capital asset on the council’s books that they ought to be allowed to dispose of.

    I would note that our families annual pilgrimage to pick bilberries was on land owned by the Earl of Airlie. Long before the Scottish Govt and the legal right to roam. There were some polite notes about closing gates etc but nobody stopped us. Or any of the more enthusiastic walkers on the longer treks our excursion was the mere beginning of.

  3. yes but the Scottish tradition of roaming pretty freely did not obtain in England.

    Of course, the Scots law mandating it does not apply (and is pretty recent, anyway) but the Forestry Commission generally still allow you to play. If the leasee were a different organisation or, as I said, the lease would be broken, there would be more point to the original complaint.

  4. £125 per acre might be generous. Given that SCC or Taunton Deane contributes to the salary of a ranger, net income is probably a big fat zero. And who cares who the freeholder is if there’s a 900 year lease at minimal ground rent still to run?
    Threats to the Quantocks (where I roamed when I were a lad) are probably, in order:
    deer
    the forestry commission
    illegal rubbish dumping (and we know why that happens, don’t we children?)
    suburbanisation (someone burnt down the toilet block last year)
    lack of coppicing and pollarding
    too many horses and sheep

    and the lantern at the back, “climate change”.

  5. Not all under lease to F.C. Fence the rest and put up a range of the eco-warriors favourite posts with blades on. Eco-disruption to a wonderfully unspoilt area will serve them right, they want the things, lettum havum.

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